For immediate release: March 12, 2014 media contact: Heather Ervin, Director of Marketing and Communication phone: 416.536.5018 x 231 email: email@example.com
Tarragon Theatre and RBC announce Step Taylor Winner of the RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition Tarragon Theatre and RBC Foundation are pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition is Step Taylor for his play Model Wanted. Model Wanted is a fierce examination of poverty, substance abuse, and sexuality that explores how society’s norms might play a role in shaping so-called “monsters”. Inspired by a 2011 murder in Saint John, New Brunswick, Model Wanted follows Ross: a bright, charming teenager on the verge of graduating high school. His room-mate Joy thinks he’s a good kid. His best friend Chantelle is in love with him. His mother Loretta lives for him. So why is he drunk and posing naked for photographs at a strange man's home the night before his last exam? We extend our thanks to this year’s jury – Sean Dixon (Tarragon Playwright-in-Residence), Steven Schipper (Artistic Director, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre) and Donna Spencer (Artistic Producer, Firehall Arts Centre) – for their support in selecting the winner of this prestigious prize. In their comments, the jury members wrote that “the story of the play was interesting and had energy. . . the dialogue feels alive and reflective of its setting”, and praised the play for its “arresting moments of genuine clarity and insight”. As the winner, Taylor receives a cash prize of $3,000 as well as a year’s worth of dramaturgy at Tarragon Theatre, followed by a presentation as part of Tarragon Theatre's Play Reading Week in 2014. Taylor has this to say of his win: “It's validating and exhilarating to be recognized by a leading force in Canadian playwriting. Model Wanted is a decidedly Atlantic Canadian horror story, but it gushes tough questions about sex, education, parenting, and social inequality that I think people everywhere should be asking themselves.” Step Taylor is a writer and actor from Chapel Arm, NL by way of Fredericton, NB. His plays have been staged steadily by New Brunswick's NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, including site-specific titles The Station (2013) and Sorry, Melon (2012 & 2013), ten-minute piece Sensitive People in Coffee Shops (2011), and full-length Chapel Arm (2008), published by Scirocco Drama in 2009. Other credits include V-Cards at Centaur Theatre's Wildside Festival (Epic Tale Theatre 2014), Model Wanted (Friendly Haters Theatre at Vancouver Fringe Festival 2013; National Theatre School of Canada 2013), Screwjob (Valley Young Company 2012), and The Marketeer (Theatre New Brunswick 2010). He is a graduate of the NTS Playwriting program (2013), and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia (2010). Taylor will perform in Code White Theatre's upcoming production of his companion plays Screwjob and The Heel at the Gladstone Hotel, February 6-8 and 12-15, 2014. The RBC Tarragon Emerging Playwrights’ Competition is generously supported by RBC Foundation. This is the fifth year RBC has supported the competition through their RBC Emerging Artists Project, which helps emerging artists bridge the gap from the academic to the professional world. In 2012, RBC committed more than $3 million in support of 141 arts organizations across Canada through the RBC Emerging Artists Project.
The submissions for this year’s competition reflect the talent and drive found in emerging talent all over Canada. With the highest number of submissions ever -including first time applicant areas such as Nunavut- and every province (except Newfoundland) increasing application numbers this truly is a National Competition. Tarragon Theatre looks forward to seeing the number of submissions in other parts of Canada continue to grow. Previous recipients of the Tarragon RBC Playwrights’ Competition benefit greatly from their year of mentorship and support offered by Tarragon Theatre. Playwrights have continued their success by winning additional awards, travelling the country working with distinguished Playwrights Unit and – perhaps most importantly – showcasing their work onstage within Canada and internationally. -30ABOUT TARRAGON THEATRE Tarragon Theatre is known for its creation, development and production of new Canadian work. Now in its 42nd season, more than 190 plays by this country's most pre-eminent writers have premiered at Tarragon. Tarragon presents new plays from all parts of the country, revives significant Canadian plays and produces international work, contemporary and classical. Tarragon is also a pioneer in presenting Quebecois plays in translation. The theatre offers extensive play development programs in a concerted effort to develop the next generation of playwrights and an active outreach and education department. Tarragon received the 2012 Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts in recognition of producing and developing leading edge and thought-provoking Canadian Theatre, both nationally and on the world stage. Richard Rose is the Artistic Director. For more information visit www.tarragontheatre.com . ABOUT RBC AND THE ARTS RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Emerging Artists Project, the RBC Canadian Painting Competition; the RBC Emerging Visions Program; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment to the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.
STUDENT PROFILE STEP TAYLOR
Step Taylor Second-year Playwriting student – Hometown: Chapel Arm, Newfoundland The tailor-made Playwriting program at NTS admits only two students per year. Newfoundlander Step Taylor, who already holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration in Drama from St. Thomas University (Fredericton), is now completing his second year in this program. It was NTS grad and playwright Ryan Griffith (Playwriting, 2007) who encouraged Step to write for the stage. Step has a reputation as a strong silent type, with a quick-witted sense of humour. Ah, and if you want to make him happy, just offer to take him to a wrestling match, followed by a meal at an Indian restaurant! What is your first memory ever of theatre? In grade 3, in Newfoundland, I participated in a Christmas concert. I didn’t get the main part of the gingerbread man, but I was one of the three nutcrackers. I got to dress up as a soldier, which was kind of cool. It was the only speaking part too. I had one line: “I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles, kid!” I got a big laugh out of that, so it felt good. Was your first dream to become an actor? After playing the nutcracker, I acted every year in elementary school, mainly skit stuff, I really loved it! I didn’t do any theatre in high school, but I was thinking I would be a writer because I wrote short stories and poetry and I tended to excel in English-oriented classes. When I started my undergrad at St-Thomas University in Fredericton, in my first year, I was still only taking English courses. But then, I saw an audition poster for Romeo and Juliet at Theatre St-Thomas. I auditioned and I got the part of Romeo! It was a really positive experience. From then on, I enjoyed acting. After graduation, I was going to continue on to George Brown Theatre School, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to act long term. Actually the way I put it to myself was: “I don’t know if I want to memorise lines for a living.” I took a year off to think and enrolled in the University of British Columbia’s Creative Writing MFA. And that felt right. For the last several years, I’ve been a writer; I get a few acting gigs here and there, because I get the itch when I’m not doing it. It also informs my writing for the stage, of course. How does one begin to think of becoming a playwright? In university, I started talking with actors who were also writers, like Ryan Griffith. While I was in second year of my undergrad, he was studying at NTS. We kept a dialogue going; he was even my dramaturg a few times and he encouraged me to write for the stage.
I wrote my earliest plays during my undergrad. I had a really good relationship with the director of Theatre St. Thomas, Ilkay Silk, who put together 78, an annual event of workshop readings of new plays from the Fredericton community. Around the same time, I got involved with the NotaBle Acts Theatre Company http:// www.nbacts.com/. It’s a summer theatre festival in Fredericton, to which I submitted works. I did some acting and directing with them as well. They put on my first professional production, which was called Chapel Arm. The play was published a year later. What is it like to leave the Maritimes to come and study in Montreal? It’s different for sure! It seemed like a good excuse to live in Montreal for a while; to get away for three years and just write to see what I’m capable of putting together under the tutelage of real capable people (Ryan Griffith had nothing but good things to say about the School, like the people you are put in contact with). I don’t know where I’m going to go once I graduate; I could end up in Toronto or I might have some time back in Atlantic Canada. Are there any defining moments in your studies at NTS so far? I have to say my first year project, under the dramaturgical tutelage of Brian Drader, who is the director of the Playwriting Program. Brian would give me ideas about changing my plays, and they instantly made so much sense that I was excited to go back into the text. He has a gorgeous generosity as a teacher and is a big part of the reason my writing right now is the cleanest and most efficient it’s ever been. That is exactly why I came here! My second year project is overseen by Sean Dixon (Acting, 1988). This play is a huge departure for me; it’s surreal and quite non-linear. It’s kind of a crazy piece and Sean has an imagination that’s so in synch with that. It’s been a totally different experience dramaturgically, but with lots of respectful candour. You once said in an interview “Mostly, I tend to write about complicated love.” Is that still true? It’s a funny thing… We have a class called Altered Truths, which is all about examining plays that borrow from autobiographical information, and discussing the ways in which we write ourselves into our work. Last Valentine’s Day, we looked at plays that talked about love; it’s amazing how many plays are written on the subject! I still think I write about complicated love. But the feedback I’m getting from Brian Drader and others is that it’s not always in the forefront anymore. I’m still writing about relationships, but I’m finding new and pretty exciting ways to do it. Do you have any favourite plays? I just love Cat On A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. In my undergrad, I ended up building a maquette for it. I guess it reflects what I want to achieve in my own plays, going back to that idea of complicated relationships. Williams found ways to explore that which is so true and unique, plays that are boiling hot, with action and intensity; you just can’t avert your eyes. That inspires me! Were there more challenging classes in the program to date? Ah, yes, yes. The Playwriting program is a unique program in that you take some classes that are not obviously writing courses. For instance, there’s the Mind & Body class, which we have twice a week for a year and a half. It is a huge challenge for someone like me who isn’t coordinated! But, I’m sure it’s ended up in my writing somehow, on an unconscious level. During this second year, we’re extremely busy; lots of deadlines. We’re working on a theatre for young audiences piece for example, which is new territory for me. There’s also a full-length play to write and a solo show that we have to write and perform ourselves, plus smaller assignments and presentations along the way. Do you tend to write about life in the Maritimes?
I write lots of East Coast inspired stuff because it’s what I know. The dialects and the kinds of conversation people have there come naturally to me. Plus, that universe intrigues people who are not from the East Coast. So, for my writing exercises, that’s where I tend to go; it’s my way in. But the two larger plays I wrote at NTS had nothing to do with the Maritimes. For third-year project though, the way it’s looking right now, it will be very much about life in Atlantic Canada. Do you have any hobbies? I like professional wrestling way too much! As a child, I watched it obsessively; now I watch it enough to keep up. It ties in to what I like about theatre. I’ve never been attracted to sports, but this sort of predetermined theatrical sport always spoke to me because it’s so much about good versus evil. It’s a machine for simple storytelling that just keeps producing, week after week. It’s quite offensive, but every now and again they tell a story with a great twist at the end. And I love Indian food… and Greek food. Food in general is a big one for me! I actually write and do homework really well if I know I have a brilliant meal to look forward to after!
Q&A Emerging Fredericton playwright and STU alumnus is recipient of the Council of the Arts Fredericton Performing Arts Scholarship -I guess to start off I would just like to know how you are enjoying Montreal and The National Theatre School? I am involved with TST and I cannot even imagine how wonderful it is to be working there. Getting into NTS was the ultimate excuse to move to Montreal. As we say in the Mile End, it's a sick life. Crazy great food, booze in convenience stores, a decent amount of solid Anglo theatre, and on top of that a lot of my friends from Fredericton now live in Montreal. What's more, most of them ended up in my neighborhood. NTS is precisely what I need in my life right now: three years of writing my ass off under the tutelage of some of the most brilliant instructors and writers in the country. The head of the Playwriting program, Brian Drader, is more or less a god. He's one of these rare people who is actually tailor-made for his job. He reminds me of Ilkay Silk and her role at St. Thomas. I think I've done my cleanest, most thoughtful writing since arriving at the school. I'm surrounded by up-and-comers from all theatrical disciplines. It's hard not to feel motivated when you interact with people you want to work with on a daily basis. -How does it feel to have received the Council of the Arts Fredericton Performing Arts Scholarship for 2011? What was your initial reaction and how will this scholarship help you pursue your career even further? It feels positively stupendous. I need the money. NTS is great but its scholarships aren't nearly as numerous or as comprehensive as STU's. When I was applying for the Performing Arts Scholarship I noticed that I knew all of the previous winners listed on the website. I went to school with musicians Mahmoud Hussein and Greg Harrison and I've worked with Zita Nyarady through the NotaBle Acts Theatre Company. I'm honored to be in that company. Thanks to the Fredericton Community Foundation we've all been able to better afford the honing of our craft. -When in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue a life in theatre? Play writing, acting...? Did you always know or was there a certain performance or experience that made you think "this is what I always want to be doing?"
I acted in skits in elementary school and felt pretty good about those. I played a passed out homeless man in a show about career ambitions. I didn't really pick drama up again until I started at St. Thomas and saw a poster in James Dunn Hall for Romeo & Juliet auditions. I got the part of Romeo and loved the experience so much that I very swiftly knew theatre was in my life to stay. In recent years my focus has been playwriting because I can't imagine learning lines for a living. I've loved writing stories since the fourth grade, and I've come to realize that my favorite way to see my stories play out is live, onstage, right in front of my face. - How has STU/TST/Fredericton helped you to get where you are now? Theatre St. Thomas, NotaBle Acts and Theatre New Brunswick have all given my work valuable public exposure. Every writer needs an audience, but a playwright needs an audience, a director, actors, technicians, etc., and so I'm hugely grateful for the opportunities and resources that have come my way in Fredericton. My successful and not so successful moments in that theatre community continue to inform everything I write. I've worked with some deeply talented New Brunswick theatre artists over the years. Both my first amateur and professional productions happened in the Black Box Theatre, the latter of which went on to be published and eventually helped get me into the National Theatre School. - When you finish your program where do you see yourself? Or what do you hope you accomplish in the next chapter of your life? I imagine I'll work a shit job or two while I try to get my plays done and/or secure teacherly positions. My time with Theatre St. Thomas was some of best fun I've ever had, so I'd savor a chance to mentor students in a supportive and creative environment like that. I've got a couple of TV pilots written that can't be any worse than Little Mosque on the Prairie. The bottom line is to keep writing important stuff down and make sure it gets done in pretty cool ways. I'm also open to exorbitant fame and wealth. Written by Nicole Vair Published November 7, 2011